Top of the Hill


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(photos courtesy of Pelican Hill)

Perched high above acres of pristine Southern Californian coastline stretching between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, the Resort at Pelican Hill is a luxurious nest for golfers and wellness travelers alike.

The Resort at Pelican Hill’s architecture and design were inspired by the opulent homes found along Venetian countryside, many of them designed by the 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Not only beautiful, but Palladio’s twenty-three Venetian buildings along with the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was after this architect’s work that the Resort at Pelican Hill drew its inspiration, with Italian plaster finishes enhanced by handmade terra cotta finials sculpted by a master ceramicist.

The landscape gives a nod to the peaceful Mediterranean climate with groves of olive trees, rows of lavender, and grand cypress trees leading up to the resort’s most iconic feature, two award-winning 18-hole golf courses designed by Tom Fazio.


The resort operates a hotel within a hotel concept, where guests can choose between any of the 204 bungalow style guest rooms and suites, or opt for a more residential-style accommodation with the 128 two-, three- and four- bedroom villas. Both options offer a discriminating level of service and privacy, with views that have earned the resort the bragging rights of offering more luxury, ocean-view home accommodations available for daily rental than any other resort.

Bungalows are appointed with old world European details like handcrafted wood- beam ceilings, Italian limestone framed fireplaces, marble soaking tubs, and private terraces, while still offering the modern technologies like MP3 ports, flat screen televisions, and Bose sound systems.

Ranging from 2,200 square feet to 3,581 square feet, the expansive villas feature gourmet kitchens with wine cabinets and professional cookware perfect that make it ideal for guests to bring in a private chef or try their hands at creating an Italian feast all their own. Marble walk-in showers are standard, as are the one or two car private garages. Villa guests have around-the-clock access to personal butlers and staff, and enjoy exclusive access to the Villa Club house that offers private gourmet dining and a stunning pool featuring 300,000 hand-set, hand-cut mosaic tiles.


It’s no stretch of the word to say that the golf courses at Pelican Hill are perfect. After opening in the early 1990s, renowned course architect Tom Fazio returned nearly one decade later to “re-perfect” all 36 holes in a project that would culminate with a grand re-opening in 2007. Part of the resort offers up the world’s largest circular pool, dining that honors its italian inspiration at andrea ristorante and 204 exquisite bungalows for guests. Part of the re-perfection included installing a one-of-a-kind water management system that would not only nourish the 400 acres of the courses but also protect the ocean below through conservation and recycling.

Although the sister courses offer similar views and challenges, they are distinctly different in terms of play. The Ocean North Course has a good mix of challenging and satisfying holes, where achieving par at the seventh hole’s challenging bunker in the middle of a wide fairway is rewarded with a satisfying downhill drive down the eighth hole among stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The Ocean South Course has won countless awards like Best Course, Best Views, and even Best 18th Hole, where it becomes a strategy game to conquer the elevated and multi-tiered greens of the course’s famous par 4 finishing hole.

The Pelican Hill Golf Club acts like a private club for resort guests, where guests can take advantage of preferred tee times and dining reservations, access to the clubhouse, and even professional forecaddies. Only offered at the premier country clubs and resorts around the world, it is the goal of the forecaddies to create a memorable golf- ing experience, from finding golf balls to assisting with club selection and even helping out by reading greens, raking sand bunkers, taking the flagstick out of the cup, cleaning clubs and golf balls, obtaining yardages, and replacing or re- pairing divots. The forecaddie even goes ahead of the golfer on each hole to mark the shot where it landed.


The resort is also home to the world’s largest circular pool, where vaulted arches and a radiant-blue bottom mosaic tile bottom beckon golfers in after a successful morning on the course. The Spa at Pelican Hill covers an expansive 23,000 square feet of relaxation and indulgence, earning it a spot on Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award list every year since it opened.

In a nod to the resort’s Italian heritage and design, Pelican Hill offers one of the most authentic northern Italian restaurants in the nation. Locally sourced ingredients top the menu at Andrea Ristorante, with olive oil made from the olive trees growing onsite, where a one-of-a-kind, temperature controlled cucina della pasta (pasta room) sets the perfect stage for precision formed pasta. The resort boasts five other dining options, including the Great Room Social Lounge, which makes for a great spot for unwinding at the end of a great day on the property with a craft cocktail, a stunning sunset backdrop, live entertainment and a good cigar.

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